Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1945
Three Woodcutters: Minor characters who comment, in symbolic language, on the progress of the hunt.
The Moon: A symbol of Fate, personified as a woodcutter, who speaks in symbolic, veiled verse.
A Beggar Woman: Although not on the cast listing, she appears suddenly and alludes to impending death. She is Death personified.
A Little Girl: She joins two other little girls onstage in playing with a ball of wool.
The scene opens ominously at night in a forest. This setting represents danger and nature in its unfettered glory. Three woodcutters appear, speaking of the couple—Leonardo and the Bride—escaping on horseback and the inevitable pursuit of the Bridegroom who is sworn to revenge. The Woodcutters comment on the reason for the escape: the lovers have followed their natural inclination and not bowed to society’s whims. They then comment on the inevitability of capture. All the paths are sealed off. If the moon comes out from behind the clouds, the added light will aid in the capture.
The third act is largely written in verse. As in early chapters, when the horse and a star were repeatedly emphasized, now the moon is. The moon is described with both positive and negative images. It is like fate, sometimes good and sometimes bad.
The Moon does appear, as a woodcutter personified, and gives a monologue, again veiled with images that allude to its light aiding the capture of Leonardo and the Bride. In this monologue, the images are malevolent. Although “blood” has been invoked throughout the play to symbolize different constructs, from passion to kinship, in this case “blood” refers to death.
With the conclusion of the Moon’s monologue, Death herself appears, in the form of an old beggar woman. Like the Moon, she speaks in verse, commenting on the action (which does not occur on stage) with symbolic language. Nature’s cover, the vast foliage and whisper of the river, conceal the ensuing murderous confrontation. The speech is portentous, and the Old Woman speaks with the authority of Death incarnate. She says there will be screams and the bodies of men whose throats have been torn.
The Moon reappears and the two continue to report on the battle in veiled, symbolic language. The two seem to work in tandem to insure that Fate prevails: “We won’t let them cross the river. Silence!” To further seal fate, the Beggar Woman gives the Bridegroom, who has stumbled across her path, directions to find his wayward bride and Leonardo. Her allusions make it clear that the Bridegroom will not survive the encounter: “Wait! What broad shoulders! Why don’t you want to be laid out on them, instead of walking around on the soles of such small feet?”
Under the portents of death, amply evoked in the lines of the Woodcutters, Leonardo and the Bride appear. They argue as they realize that they are hemmed in; escape is unlikely. Leonardo wants to leave the Bride, to spare her his fate. They argue about whose fault the predicament is. The argument continues and the characters begin conversing in verse, again with images that mingle death and love (life/birth): “I love you! I love you! But leave me! / If I were able to kill you, / I’d wrap you in a shroud / bordered by violets!” The conversation continues with each character using speech that mixes images of death (natural decay), violence, and murder. This encounter is perhaps the highlight of the play. The playwright’s stage directions indicate that it is to be “violent, filled with great sensuality.” The culmination of the scene is an embrace which equates death with sexuality and the brutally direct sexual image in the line: “The moon nails us together / My loins are fused to your thighs.”
The scene ends as the music is cut short by violent screams. The Beggar...
(The entire section contains 1945 words.)
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